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5 months ago by Helen Doughty

Burnout | What is e-presenteeism and how is it affecting you?

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Whilst many may assume that the sudden shift to remote working has effectively eliminated one of the oldest and most widespread issues in the workplace – presenteeism – worryingly, it seems that physical presence isn’t a necessity for the issue to remain prevalent.

In fact, with the steep increase in remote working tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom, it’s possible for employees to be ‘plugged in’ to work for far longer, as on average, those working from home are racking up an extra 28 hours of monthly overtime since lockdown began. It equates to nearly four days’ work.

The research, which was commissioned by LinkedIn and the Mental Health Foundation, revealed that four in five (79%) think that the extended period of remote working has encouraged a culture dubbed ‘e-presenteeism’, meaning employees feel that they should be online and available as much as possible even if out of hours, or if they are unwell.

Three-quarters (75%) feel that the issue has the potential to negatively impact employees’ mental health by causing additional stress, burnout and anxiety. And this isn’t lost on managers. More than half (54%) think mental health issues such as anxiety, burnout, isolation and loneliness have become more prevalent among employees in their company due to the impact of coronavirus on the way we work, and 56% fear lower team morale.

What impact is this having on employees?

With less of a work-life balance, nearly a third (31%) of employees say they are now sleeping badly, 30% have experienced rising anxiety and 24% admitted that their mental health has taken a hit.

Yet, surprisingly, despite the struggles of working from home full-time, two in five (44%) have reported that they feel more connected to their family. More than half (54%) can also see the benefits that come with working from home and would like their employer to give them the option to do so more often when lockdown is over.

What can employers do to help?

“Burnout, which is caused by chronic workplace stress, is a modern phenomenon that poses a huge risk to our physical and mental health,” explained Chris O’Sullivan from the Mental Health Foundation. “People working from home during these unprecedented times are at a greater risk of burnout due to the high stakes environment we find ourselves in both globally and personally. We cannot have the same business-as-usual expectations on ourselves or of our employees – there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to work full time, look after children at home and keep up our other responsibilities.” He added.